Where is the Medicaid outrage?

by Maureen Fiedler

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I wonder these days about the fast-food worker making a minimal wage who discovers he or she has diabetes and cannot afford insulin. Another low-wage worker (and we have far too many in this country) might be injured in an auto accident but can't afford rehabilitative care. These are some of the working poor who would benefit from Medicaid expansion. Yet more than 20 states are denying these people the health coverage they desperately need. Where is the outrage?

Capitol Hill these days specializes in medical outrage -- when it comes to Obamacare. There is weeping and gnashing of teeth over the trouble-plagued health care website and about people having policies canceled that they thought they could keep. Both of these are legitimate concerns, but they often come from those who want to see Obamacare fail no matter what. That suggests a motive with minimum of human concern and a lot of politics.

But while all this is going on, there are deliberate decisions by many governors to not expand Medicaid coverage for the poor in their states. Yet where is the outrage about that?

Currently, 25 states and the District of Columbia are expanding Medicaid; four more are considering it, and 21 have opted out, at least for the time being. (Virginia may reconsider after its recent election, where the governor-elect, Terry McAuliffe, campaigned for Medicaid expansion.)

But most who opted out are refusing the expansion as a blatant move of political opposition to both the law and President Barack Obama. And money is not the issue. The cost of such expansion is borne almost entirely by the federal government, so states would have to pay only 5 percent of the cost by 2017 and 10 percent by 2020.

Medicaid expansion offers health care eligibility for those between the ages of 19 and 65 who are at the bottom of the economic ladder. Many are low-wage workers. In the Gospel, they are called "the poor."

It blows my mind that some political leaders -- most of who claim to be Christian -- have so little concern for the poor. I have to admit: I wonder what Gospel they read.

And the Catholic bishops? They are on record as favoring Medicaid expansion, but if they weren't so focused on stopping contraceptive coverage, they might find time to focus on Medicaid expansion. Pope Francis would certainly be supportive.

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